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29 January 2013, 11:46 pm
World's Top RS:X Sailors Duke It Out In Miami
London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge
London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami
Miami, USA

A strong contingency of the top sailors in the world are in Miami testing themselves against familiar rivals and incoming talent from a new generation of racers.
The RS:X Men's and Women's events are back in Miami for 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup and these two fleets feature the best of the best in an early season clash of Olympic medalists and new challengers.

Most elite board sailors enjoyed some much needed time off following their intense Olympic campaigns for London 2012. However, a quick turn around and immediate focus is in order with the RS:X World Championships in Brazil this February. Up and comers are looking to assert themselves in the class this week in Miami, while other more seasoned veterans are trying to re-capture the magic they sustained in their successful performances in Weymouth.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Dorian Van Rijssbelberghe of The Netherlands surged ahead of the fleet with two wins today to take a two point lead over Brazil's Ricardo Santos. Great Britain's Nick Dempsey dropped two spots from Monday, and is in third. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2004 bronze medalist commented on the upcoming schedule and training for Rio 2016. "Following the World Championships in February and March, it will be about focusing on the Olympic campaign for Rio 2016," said Dempsey. "I'm just trying to get back out on the water now and get as fit as possible for the World Championships."

Dempsey is intrigued about the venue in Rio, "If you look at Rio as a light wind venue, as windsurfers we're going to have to be light, strong, fit, and technically good. It's going to be a difficult venue. There is a lot of current and with it being light winds it's going to be very physical. I like to mix up my training, because it can be a bit monotonous. Anything you can do to keep it interesting and different to keep you inspired."

Van Rijssbelberghe, the three-time ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Champion, was reserved, yet focused on the new challenge. "There is some great build up for these events, but I want to keep it fun," said Van Rijssbelberghe. "Miami is such a great place to sail. It has always been one of my favorite destinations. We've got some breeze going on and it's quite tricky out there. I do a lot of cross training and it's great to get on that mountain bike and start ripping some trails."

Defending RS:X Women's Champion Demita Vega of Mexico is out to retain her crown against the world's best this year. She won race four and finished second in race three to take a one point lead. 2012 Olympic silver medalist Tuuli Petaja of Finland has won two of four races, including race three. She trails Vega by a point.

Petaja has had a surreal offseason following her outstanding performance in Weymouth. She was honored as the Finnish Athlete of the Year. "My name and face is now in a lot of newspapers and TV channels," said Petaja. "Not many people thought a windsurfer could get that much publicity in Finland, which is more about the winter sports.

"I didn't surprise myself that much. I knew from the training I did earlier in the summer in Weymouth I was capable of racing with the very best girls. The first goal this year is to compete in the World Championships, so that's going to be my first visit there and I don't know much about Rio yet."

Spain's gold medalist and World #5 Marina Alabau, who has won the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami event in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2007, is currently in sixth place. "My goal is to qualify for the Olympics, but it's not easy in my country to qualify," said Alabau. "So this is really good motivation to keep going. I'll be spending a lot of time training in Rio." Spain also features board sailing standout Blanca Manchon.

Alabau prefers participating in other sports and activities as a source of training. "I like to play other sports like kite sailing, cycling, and swimming. I'm not going to the gym much, because it is boring to me. I'm just trying to do fun activities, because when you have fun you don't realize how much you are pushing yourself and that's how I enjoy training."

World #13 and 2012 Olympians from Austria, Matthias Schmid and Floran Reichstaedter had a big day in the Men's 470. They evened up with Monday's leaders Stuart McNay and David Hughes (USA) by winning race four and finishing third in race three.

Despite sustaining a Black Flag in race four, Brazil's Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan of the Women's 470 hold a two point lead over China's Xiaomei Xu and Chunyan Yu, who finished sixth and third today. Oliveira and Barbachuan won race three.

Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich of Italy won two of three races in the 49erFX event are clinging to a one point advantage over Brazil's Kahena Kunze and Martine Grael. Four teams are within three points of each other atop the leaderboard.

Caleb Paine (USA) has caught fire in the Finn event. He won both races today and has come out on top in three of four races. He leads World #1 Brendan Casey (AUS) by five points and Star legend Bruno Prada (BRA) by six. Paine has been ranked as high as #4 in the world. He won the U.S. Finn National Championship in October and the Delta Lloyd Regatta World Cup event in May. He's looking to improve on his fifth place finish last year in Miami.

Fred Strammer and Zach Brown (USA) leaped into first place by finishing strong on Tuesday in the 49er event. They won races five and six to take a one point lead over Sebastian Oestling and Kalle Torlen (SWE).

Ireland's Annalise Murphy returned to her usual form today in the Laser Radials. She won race four and finished second in race three to take a tie-breaker edge over World #5 Tuula Tenkanen (FIN). Canada's Isabella Bertold trails by just a point.

World #3 Bruno Fontes (BRA) won both races today in Laser action to take the lead. He has a slight edge over France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz who had a lead after three races. American Charlie Buckingham and Sweden's Jesper Stalheim are one point behind the leader.

Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA) continued their success from Monday with two more wins in the Nacra 17 event. They have won the last three races, including three of four. Americans Sarah Streater and Matthew Whitehead remain close and just two points back. They were second in both races.

The 2012 Paralympic bronze medalists Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen of Norway kept their status as the leaders through Tuesday. After winning both races on Monday, they were fourth and third on Tuesday to hold on to a two point lead.

Canadian Bruce Millar moved into the lead by posting a pair of bullets in the 2.4 mR racing today. Millar was seventh at the 2.4 mR World Championship in September. He leads World #4 Byornar Erikstad of Norway by two points and Alan Leibel (CAN) by four.

For the most updated standings, visit the results section of the event website at http://mocr.ussailing.org/index.php/results/.

To follow all the action this week in Miami, visit event website at http://mocr.ussailing.org for real-time racecourse blogging, commentary and fan interaction with Cover it Live, regatta results, photos and news updates.

View full results here.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Website

Jake Fish
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